Jeff Prestridge  

A financial suit of armour

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

In other words, when it comes to a choice of home, motor or holiday insurance over income protection cover, they will invariably opt for the former because the chances of making a claim are that much higher.

You could argue that Zurich’s work treads rather worn ground. It is merely reinforcing facts we already know. Namely, that despite the introduction of pension auto-enrolment and generous annual Isa allowances, most of us are not saving enough for the future.

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Our eye, understandably, is more focused on dealing with financial survival in the present than concentrating on how to build for the future.

It also confirms the well-known fact that irrespective of the merits of income protection insurance, it still remains a hard product to sell, especially when other insurances are either compulsory or seem more important.

Most people are prepared to gamble on the fact they will go through employment without being derailed by serious illness – but not on the chances of someone at some stage coming into their home and running off with a sackful of their priceless possessions.

As Dr Jack Lewis, a neuroscientist and a key figure in the production of Zurich’s report, says: “Examples of when car, home and holiday insurance could come to the rescue are simply much more available than the benefits of income protection, because they are more commonly encountered in everyday life.”

Some may argue that Zurich’s research is merely a subtle way of the insurer promoting a product it needs to sell in order to generate revenue and profits. That may well be the case, but the fact remains that for all the good of the 2014 Seven Families campaign – an industry-wide initiative designed to raise awareness about protection cover, and which Zurich supported to the hilt – insurance protection remains something of a mystery.

Those who have bought it understand the reassurance it brings. Those who have successfully claimed on it cannot speak more highly about the product. But they are sadly in a minority.

Most people have no idea such cover exists, mistakenly believing that if serious illness comes their way their employer will come riding to the rescue over the horizon – like a knight in shining armour. 

If I were a financial adviser, I would use the research as a tool to impress upon clients – and potential clients – the need for good old income protection insurance as part of their financial armoury. Their shining financial armoury.

Jeff Prestridge is personal finance editor of the Mail on Sunday